By Erica Thomas, managing editor
TRUSSVILLE — The Trussville Police Department responds to multiple calls weekly, during the summer months, about animals left in hot cars. That’s why Chief Eric Rush is reminding pet owners to be responsible as the summer heat bears down on Alabama.
According to the ASPCA, even if the temperature outside is 70 degrees, the temperature inside a vehicle can reach up to 90 degrees in a short amount of time. The results can be deadly for animals and children.
“You’re creating a very dangerous situation for a pet or a child,” said Chief Rush. “If you leave your pet or child in a hot car, we are allowed to use force to remove it from that environment.”
The city of Trussville amended a city ordinance in 2018 allowing police officers who see an animal in distress to take actions necessary to save the animal.
Rush said officers have had to take action since the ordinance was amended.
“We have done it several times,” Rush said. “If it’s hot and you need to run to the store, leave your pets at home and don’t leave your kids in the car.”
Some pet owners may think that cracking a window will help the inside of a vehicle stay cool, but that is not the case. Chief Rush added that pets should not be left in a car even when the car is still running.
“That’s another issue,” Rush said. “If you leave it running, you are just asking for someone to come steal it. Then they’ve got your car and your dog.”
To prevent your pet from overheating, follow this additional advice from the ASPCA:
Know the signs of heatstroke in pets and how to prevent it.
Symptoms of overheating in pets can include:
- Excessive panting or difficulty breathing
- Increased heart and respiratory rate
- Mild weakness
Symptoms can also include seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomit along with an elevated body temperature of over 104 degrees.
You’ll want to keep an eye out for these signs of distress, but you’ll also want to ensure that your pet is properly hydrated at all times. Make sure you give your pets plenty of fresh, clean water when it’s hot or humid outdoors. Ensure that your pets have a shady place to get out of the sun, be careful not to over-exercise them and use your best judgment to keep them indoors when it’s extremely hot. Never let your dog linger on hot asphalt. Being so close to the ground, your pooch’s body can heat up quickly, and sensitive paw pads can burn. Keep walks during peak daytime hours to a minimum.
Also keep in mind that animals with flat faces, like Pugs and Persian cats, are more susceptible to heatstroke since they cannot pant as effectively as others. These pets, along with elderly and overweight animals, as well as those with heart or lung diseases, should be kept cool in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible.
Haircuts can be helpful also.
Feel free to trim longer hair on your pets, but never shave them down to the skin. The layers of dogs’ coats protect them from overheating and sunburn. Brushing cats more often than usual can prevent problems caused by excessive heat. Be sure that any sunscreen or insect repellent products you use on your pets are labeled specifically for use on animals.